I was inspired and reaffirmed in my belief in Montessoring (new word) my home, when I read the book “How to Raise an Amazing Kid the Montessori Way” by Tim Seldon. It made me proud that we were already doing many things well and pushed me to go farther.
One of the things we have been doing well is Montessori-style playtime. This is a time when my kids each get a rug, ours were donated by a Montessori teacher friend but you can get a similar one here, and play independently for a period of time. Times when we do this include: when Mommy is making dinner, when Mommy or Daddy is in the shower, and weekend mornings when Mommy and Daddy are not ready to wake up! It looks like this:
This was afterschool one day when I was making dinner. My son is sitting on his mat which is a major sin in a Montessori classroom, but this is home not school and I don’t really care.
Like many with small children, the risk of your home becoming one big playroom is pretty high unless you consciously set boundaries to prevent it. Toys are housed in two places in our home, the family room and the child’s individual room. There is limited space and when that space is full we have to get rid of a toy if we want to get something new. In the family room all toys are tucked away in specific spots that are unassuming or can be closed off.
Puzzle cabinet (open) and under the coffee table bins:
We keep our rugs under the coffee table with the bins that house art supplies. Seldon recommends labeling your baskets, but frankly that sounds like too much work. If I tell my 2-year-old where to put his cars and he puts them away, it is pretty much cemented in his brain. No label needed.
In the kids’ rooms I just bought some cheap shelves from Target. Each bin contains one type of toy. For example, my son has one for cars and one for space themed toys.
When they play, they take the entire basket out so clean up is easier at the end. The kids are responsible for taking out the toys and putting them back and the rule is one toy at a time. We are hardcore about this process and we hold the kids accountable if it doesn’t happen.
This was the easiest aspect of Montessori to implement in our home. The kids knew the expectations from school and it was easily translated to home. If you are looking for a place to start playtime just might be it.